It’s that time of the year. Signs, flyers and advertisements are every where. Farm supply stores have tubs sectioned off with eager little eyes peering over the edges. Chick time.
Two years ago we made the plunge in to the chicken world. We went to our local Tractor Supply Store and left about $150 poorer and 50 chicks heavier.
You may be going, holy cow 50 chicks, I thought you were a cow person. Well I am, but we intended to eat some of these fluffy nuggets. Fifteen of the chicks were pullets (female). These were going to be our layers. The other thirty five were “straight run”, this means both male and female chicks are in the group. You just get what you get. We assumed the majority would be roosters which we would dine on when the time came. We all know what assuming does…. There were 6 roosters. Long story short we ate some of the hens. They were just as tasty as the roosters.
Fast forward two years, we have a coop full of 23 layers and crazy little blond girl who pampers them.
So how do you decide if you’re ready to enter the crazy world of chickens?
First thing’s first. If you live in a town or city ordinance, you need to check your local laws. Some places don’t allow chickens at all, some allow hens but no roosters and some only allow a certain number of birds on your property. Nothing would be as disappointing as getting your flock going only to discover that you can’t keep them.
Next you need to decide if you have the time to care for a flock. While chickens are not incredibly labor intensive, they do require some commitment. Chicks can be very intensive, depending on the time of year and age of chicks. As they age the require daily feeding and watering. Winter can be a chore depending on your climate. Do you want to be spending time taking care of your feathered ladies when it’s subzero?
How much room do you have? While chickens don’t require huge spaces they need some room to stretch those wings. Coop, free range, make shift pen, one of those snazzy little houses that are advertised on Facebook all the time? All these options can either limit or expand how many chicks you purchase.
Next come some choices that really shape the dynamic of your flock. Do you want laying hens? Meat birds? Or a nice dual purpose breed that you can either eat or collect eggs from. Our flock is made of layers as well as dual purpose.
Finally you need to select breeds. This part is by far the most fun, especially with layers. Egg shells and chicken feathers come in all the colors of the rainbow! Have fun, get crazy. Believe me, if you get chickens the crazy comes with them.
Next blog we’ll get in to choosing breeds that work for you!